Saturday, September 6, 2008

Does Your School Have a Nurse???

Wow, this has been a crazy week. I thought when your kids started school you had more time on your hands, not less. I feel like I have been running around all week non stop, and barely have time to sit down and relax. I have a few minutes now to have a cup of coffee, but I am guessing someone will start screaming, fighting, hitting, or destroying in a matter of minutes.

I spent yesterday morning volunteering in Michael's kindergarten class. It was a very interesting experience, and it totally freaked me out (yes, I was a Valley Girl growing up), in regards to sending Conor to kindergarten next year. I am not sure it is even possible to make the school safe enough for him to go. I can not see how it could happen unless I attend every snack time. First of all, these kids wander around the school totally on their own to go to different classes, move from snack to recess, etc. Is this the normal way kindergarten works? Am I just being an overprotective mother? I keep wondering if they have ever lost a child, and if so for how long.

So then, the kids bring their own snack, and take it outside to a row of tables where all the other kindergarteners and first graders bring their snack. (5 kindergarten classes, and probably 5 first grade classes, maybe 200 or so kids) Each class has their own table. They walk in a line to their table, and then, I look around and the teacher has completely dissapeared. There is me and another parent volunteer who have never been here before, and we look at each other a bit confused as to what is supposed to happen now. The kids all sit there pretty much unsupervised eating their snacks many of which include peanut butter. Then on their own when they decide they are finished they pack away their lunches, put their backpacks against a wall and run off to play. The school has a huge playground where these 200 or kids play, and there are maybe 3 teachers and a few parents watching 200 kids run wild.

Well, as I expected, a fight ensued, and I was not so nicely called away from my one attempt to relax. Oh well, I have finally got the sweet young houlligans into bed, and need to vent some more about this school thing.

Today I went with Natalie to a play date at a friends house. These two girls have known each other for alomst two weeks, and being seperated for a day, or the horror, a weekend, is excrutiatingly painful. So I took her over to her new friends house for a playdate, and spent some time talking to her mother (who is very nice by the way). Playdate Mom has three children, the oldest who is 13, and all have gone through this same immersion program. While she is very happy with the program as a whole, she did tell me more amazingly disturbing things about the school in regards to keeping my food allergic child safe.

Apparently the school has no nurse. If someone is sick or not feeling well, they are sent to the front office to be in the care of the two women who work in the front office and are known for their nasty demeanor. Lets call them the Nasty Nancys. There is a cot, and a first aid kit, and perhaps a book with some information on illnesses, but nothing else. The Nasty Nancys decide if the child is sick, and if so call the parents. The front office is also the storage for all of the medicines a child may need during the day, and the Nasty Nancys are also generally responsible for administering it.

I had never heard a school with over 500 students not having at least a nurse on hand to deal with all of the medical issues. I am sure my child is not the only one out there who needs some sort of medical expertise. What about a kid with diabetes, or epilepisy, or astham, etc, etc????

I did a little research, and discovered that not all schools are required to have a school nurse on staff - In fact most of them don't. This article below is a good overview of the situation.

Apparently only 5% of California Schools have a full time school nurse. Yikes!!! I hate when I find out things I needed to know, but wished didn't.
Does your school have a nurse??

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America - A Great Site With Free Stuff

In my many Internet cruises, I re stumbled upon a site I am sure I had previously visited before. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is a great resource, not just for asthma, but also for food allergy information and free downloads.

They have some absolutely wonderful educational material many of which are available in both English and Spanish. They have lots of general information on all your basic food allergies, including a section on the American with Disabilities Act.

It is a great site to look around on your own, and see what is useful for your own particular situation. Some of the really cool (and free) things I found are:
This is a combination asthma/allergy/anaphalyxis action plan. Although it does not have all the cool colors I love on an emergency action plan, it is the first plan I have really seen that addresses both asthma and anaphalyxis to food allergies on the same action plan.

They have some great free downloads including 5x7 Cards that have all sorts of useful information. QuickAllergy Cards offer a fast way for you to learn life-saving information. “Your Epi-Pen® – Storage, Usage and Disposal” and “Allergy Emergencies – Is This Anaphylaxis?” are heavy-duty, 5”X 7” cards that are ready for you to personalize and tuck in your purse, briefcase or backpack. There are also great cards for asthma and related emergencies.

I love finding free stuff!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Stress, Great Food Allergy Articles, and Some Good News

Well, we have just started another school week, and life is crazy in this house. My husband Mick is out of town in Rome, and left early yesterday morning. Every time he leaves town everyone in the house goes absolutely crazy. I was rudely awakened at 5:00am Monday morning by an adorable little boy hitting me because he could not find his Daddy. I put my hair up, and tried speaking in a deep voice, but it did not seem to help. Then of course no one would go to bed last night because Daddy was not there to tuck them in. The hair up and deep voice did not work again, and the only compromise I could come up with was to let them each sleep with one of Mick's pillows. He sure is in for a surprise when he comes home and discoverers that his pillows have been replaced with Sponge Bob, Race Cars, and Princesses. He he he.

Mick does not come home until Thursday, so I have to try and hold the fort down until then, and even more importantly try and keep myself sane, and avoid too much bloodshed between the loving siblings.
I did however in all this chaos, find two things online that I thought were really great for the food allergy folk. They are articles where the author tries to tell others what they want them to know about food allergies.
The first is entitled
"Five Things an Allergy Kid Mom Wants You to Know"
I have to say, this is my absolute favorite article for trying to explain to the non-food allergic just what it is like to live like us, and why we do the things we do. My favorite quote is ,"If you think “food allergy moms” seem paranoid, it’s because we are."
Another good article is
"10 Things Families with Food Allergies Want You to Know"
On a totally unrelated note, the vet just called us to give us the results of Buster's (our pug)pathology report on his cancer. He had surgery on Friday, and is doing well, despite the giant scar on his belly. They think they got all of the cancer, and that it has not spread anywhere. YEA!!!!! I am so relieved. Thanks to everyone who thought good thoughts for us, and even to everyone who didn't. I am off to go give Buster an egg free, nut free dog treat.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to School Without Food Allergies

So, Michael and Natalie started Kindergarten last week. They love it - I am totally and completely confused. I thought I had some sort of education - in fact I spent way too much time in school working on anything from a Bachelors Degree, to a Masters, to a Juris Doctorate, but for the life of me I can not figure out how the heck kindergarten works. Maybe the fact that I did not do much with any of these degrees, and now hang out at home amusing myself with my witty blog explains some of my confusion. In this case, I am ok with my confusion, since Michael and Natalie have no food allergies, and are having a great time.

First off, let me say the school itself is absolutely wonderful. The twins are in a Spanish Immersion program where they learn Spanish as an integral part of their schooling. Most of their kindergarten day takes place primarily in Spanish, and the poor teacher has to pretty much act out everything to get the english speaking kids to understand. It is a really amazing program, and is very well respected in our area. In case you are interested in more info, here is a link about it on my favorite site wikipedia.

For the first day of school, I was thankfully able to figure out where to drop everyone off and pick them up. I even remembered the correct time to pick them up at. The day before the first day of school I made the unfortunate discovery that there is a snack that every child brings from home. Of course I interrogated the teachers on how the snack worked, and discovered it was eaten outdoors if the weather was ok, but if not, it was eaten indoors. I was taken off guard by the snack. They are at school for a little over three hours - do they really need a snack. It seems that food is everywhere. Michael is in a soccer league, and I offered to bring the snack for the first game (I don't know why you need a snack at a game, but ok), only to have a mother call me the day before to remind me I needed two snacks, one for half time, and one for after the game.

Then after the first day of school there was a meeting for the parents. The kids wander all over the school, from extra English classes, to music class, to the playground in different groups at different times with different teachers. Of course I thought, how in the world does the epi-pen go with Conor to all these different places, and where in the world are all these different places. I did discover however that there does not appear to be any school nurse there.

Then there is this jargon. Sure I had heard of PTA, but here there is also SIPA (spanish immersion parent association), room mothers, volunteers, volunteer aides, , party planners, fundraisers and liaisons. I just want to hang out in the classroom a couple of times a month, and I have absolutely no clue how to do that.

So, it is almost time for week two, and I am so so so happy I have Michael and Natalie to test out the waters and figure out how this kindergarten thing works. For all of you sending your food allergic children to school, you are my hero's. I can not imagine next year when it is time for Conor to go, but at least I will hopefully have figured a few things out, and be a bit more prepared.